years old and still wielding a tomahawk.
history is intertwined with that of two Air Forces that were and
still are among the jewels of military aviation.
It was born thanks to the sacrifice and the will of a few volunteer
young men who were ready to fight and die for their ideals of
liberty and justice.
All this started exactly 100 years ago.
is 1916, WW1 is raging, the opposing powers are embarking on futile
battles that cost hundreds of thousands of young lives. In the midst
of all this, a few Americans (whose nation is still neutral in this
conflict) decide to fight alongside the Allies.
They will enlist in the French Foreign Legion and some of them will
experience fierce combat in the trenches, on the French side.
Thanks to the financial support of a number of patrons and to the
influence of some American individuals in France, a small group
gives birth to what will rapidly become the famous "Escadrille
La Fayette", N124, flying Nieuport aircraft.
It is of course named after Marquis de La Fayette who similarly
volunteered to fight on American soil in the XVIIIth century.
Their badge was the idea of their commanding officer, Capitaine G.
Thébault and then developed by Harold B. Willis: the head of a
Seminole warrior, symbolizing strength and courage, and also notably
painted on Remington ammunition boxes!
Day after day until the USA officially entered the war, the legend
was written, mixing tragedies and victories for his French-led
100 years later, Escadron de Chasse 2/4 "La Fayette" is
still animated by that very spirit of abnegation and excellence, it
is the heir of the original Escadrille (one of the 4 constituting
the Escadron). It is the only French unit flying the Mirage 2000N
and is based on Base Aérienne 125, in Istres (South of France). The
Escadron initially specialized in nuclear strategic strike, now also
excels in all-weather, day and night conventional strike. It has
proven its value over many years and on many theatres of operation.
To celebrate its anniversary, the unit chose to have a new livery
for one of its aircraft, n°353. The design is a tribute to this
special Franco-American friendship, with the two flags side by side
and of course the warrior's head on the fin.
The aircraft was painted in Istres by the one and only Adjudant
"Harry", painter of all Tiger aircraft since 2009,
assisted by Sergent-Chef "Jeff" over 12 days, on an
original design by Régis "Rage" Rocca.
The result is up to expectations and the aircraft will be on display
during the airshow season, as, after the official Centenary
ceremonies, it will fly as leader of the Ramex Delta team.
I would like personally to thank Lt Colonel "Raph", the
Traditions cell of EC 2/4 and all the men and women of the Escadron
without whose unflinching support this job could not have been done
in optimal conditions.